Archive for February, 2011

THE GLORY OF GOD IN MAN(Pt. 4)

In considering our theme, The Glory of God in Man, we come to our last brief look at John’s image in the Book of The Revelation. The very fact that he is ushered by the Spirit into the Throne room in heaven should fill us with holy anticipation. There before the Throne we see the regal nature within Man as God created him. Actually, both Ezekiel chapter one and Revelation chapter four describe among the four faces of the living beings the”face of the lion”.

The lion reminds us that Man was to have dominion on the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). God’s original thought in creating Man in His own image and likeness, male and female, was that they rule and reign as His Vice-Roy, His kingly representatives. With this the Psalmist affirms, “The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man”(Ps 115:16 NIV).

When our Lord Jesus came into the world as the Son of Man, he only did and said what he saw and heard his Father in heaven say and do. In other words, as Man was created to be before the Fall (Gen. 3), Jesus came as the perfect Man to fully obey and demonstrate the rule of his Father in heaven. He not only preached and taught about the Kingdom of heaven on earth…He demonstrated it. The apostle Peter declared, “how God anointed Jesus Christ of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him”(Acts 10:38 NIV).

The Lion is known for his fearlessness, a “lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing” (Prov 30:30 NIV). We are not to act or be cowardly in the face of life’s challenges. “The wicked man flees, though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion”(Prov 28:1 NIV). When the glory of God is seen in man there is a confidence to face down the challenges because of the nature of God that resides with him. He knows that he(or she) are no longer a victim, but a victor in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul said to young Timothy, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and a sound mind”(2 Ti 1:7). The enemy is defeated and it will be manifested in your life when you realize, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”(1 Jn 4:4 NIV).

Dominion is about what one possesses. We see God taking Israel into the promised land through a spirit of conquest (Read the Book of Joshua). The promise of the Land of Caanan had been given under Moses, but they had to contend with their enemies to occupy the territory under Joshua. The prophet Obadiah says that in spite of those who oppose God’s people they will overcome their enemies. “But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and the house of Jacob will possess its inheritance”(Obadiah 17).

As believers we face formidable foes and we must confront those which would keep us out of our God-given inheritance. Three primary enemies we must be constantly vigilant against are “the world, the flesh and the devil”. They will assault us and we must give no place to the devil through “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life”(1 Jn. 2:15-17). Take dominion over the schemes of the wicked one and defeat him! For Sin should have no place in your life. As a child of God you are called to reign in this life through Jesus Christ (Ro 5:17,21).

Finally, we conclude with John’s revelation that should fill each of us as believers in Jesus Christ with hope in spite of trials or troubles that we may face in this life. He saw a scroll in heaven, which no one was found worthy in heaven or earth to open, and he begins to weep. Then, suddenly! he is told to dry his tears, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and it’s seven seals”(Rev 5:6). In spite of sorrows and setbacks, troubles and the heartaches of life…we shall overcome by the One Who holds the future in His mighty hands. Earthly kingdoms and governments will rise and fall, but His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom which shall never come to an end.

I am reminded of the wonder and anticipation as Lucy ,in C.S. Lewis’s celebrated story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, discovered that “Aslan-the King of Narnia Forest was on the move!” When she hears that he is a lion, she gasps in dismay and says, “Is he safe?” to which the reply comes, “Safe! No…But he is good”. May we trust in the goodness of the Lion of Judah. “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes for whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his”(Genesis 49:10 NIV). Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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THE GLORY OF GOD IN MAN(Pt. 3)

If you have ever taken a road trip across country with children, you realize it doesn’t take long before the question inevitably comes from the back seat to the front, ‘‘Are we there yet’’? If we are honest with ourselves, the same is true of the process that leads us into a more mature place in Christ. Being fully alive to our true humanity in Him will mean cutting the “umbilical cord”. We must move from any illusions of being who we are not in order to become who were meant to be. This brings glory to God. The apostle Paul gives us the insight into his own true self when he said, “When he who set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace”(Gal. 1:15 ESV). If we learn the secret of being content with whom God has made us to be in Him, it releases us to serve others without hidden agendas. A healthy self-acceptance is what Jesus tells us is the true meaning of the fulfilling the whole Law and Commandments. “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul and all thy strength. And thy neighbor as thyself”(Luke 10:27).

Recall in our last article that the apostle John saw a vision in heaven, that around the thronethere were four living beings, one of which has “the face of an Ox”(Rev. 4:7 NIV).

THE FACE OF AN OX. This is to indicate that God’s thought for Man is that Man was created for duty. In Westminister Abby, in London, England there is a coin portraying an Ox standing in two directions: one before a plow and the other facing an altar. Underneath on the coin it reads “For service or sacrifice”.  Perhaps the apostle Paul captures its meaning, when he writes to fellow believers from a Philippian jail cell.  “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 
 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness”(Philippians 2:5-7 NIV).

As servants of Christ, we are called to the task of giving ourselves to others. Servanthood is one of the least understood and tapped sources of power displayed today, especially in the body of Christ. Why is this? Because true servanthood involves, as Jesus again and again demonstrated, a certain selfless frame of mind about his life. Being a servant is about not retaining your life to yourself. It means recognizing you are not your own to do as you please. As Paul reminds us, ’’For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s’’(1 Cor. 6:20).

Our Lord Jesus did not live for his own concerns or wishes. Rather he lived for and under the eye of his heavenly Father for others. “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many”(Mark 10:45). Jesus lived among us with the plow or the altar in view. The Cross was not something that adorned his neck like a beautiful ornament. But he, figuratively, did carry it daily upon the shoulders of his heart. No matter which way he turned…Calvary awaited him. He knew that without the Cross of sacrificial service there could be no Crown of victory.

To the fallen ego-Self, servanthood is undesirable. Instead of reaching down for the “basin and the towel”(John 13), we by nature want to reach up for the best seat at the banquet, the best throne, and the crown (See Mark 10:35-40). I am reminded of one of the last lines in the Movie, Patton. After leading the American troops to a decisive victory, he is removed from his command. As he is taking his dog for a walk, he becomes as it were the Narrator. He states that in ancient history, one of the scenes of the great conquering hero is that he is paraded through the newly conquered territory in his chariot. In the midst of the celebration and fanfare of victory there is a slave who walks behind him holding a crown over the victor’s head and is said to whisper, “All glory is fleeting”.

As servants of Christ it is good for us to be reminded of this. . . that all our victories are as servants of another. When we have done what we were given to do, let us in servant humility be reminded we are ‘‘unprofitable servants’’apart from His redeeming grace. May Jesus Christ alone be exalted and magnified. To Him belongs all the crowns and honor.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

THE GLORY OF GOD IN MAN(Pt.2)

A wise saint by the name of John Wright Follette said once that the Lord spoke to his heart with these words: “Don’t be afraid of being human.”  Sometimes in our quest to be ‘spiritual beings’ we can forget to embrace our humanity as a gift from God. This is the nature of true godliness; being created as human beings in the image of God.

Our Lord Jesus, although being fully God, shows us how God sanctifies our humanity (saving for sin) by becoming human. “He took on the form of man”(Phil. 2:6-8).

If we refuse to be human we cannot fulfill our God-design in the universe. And often, the more we try to rid ourselves of that which is common to life, the more miserable we become, making others we relate to miserable as well. Our attempt to appear spiritual is often a form of pride. So observed Thomas Merton in his book, No Man is an Island.  He wrote, “Pride always longs to be unusual. Humility not so. Humility finds all its peace in hope, knowing that Christ must come again to elevate and transfigure ordinary things and fill them with His glory. God is more glorified by the man who uses the good things of this life in simplicity and with gratitude than by the nervous asceticism of someone who is agitated about every detail of self-denial. The former uses good things and thinks of God. The latter is afraid of good things, and consequently cannot use them properly”.

I wrote last week that John saw a heavenly vision of “living beings” before the throne of God. Each one had either the face of a Man, the face of an Eagle, the face of an Ox, or the face of a Lion (Rev. 4:6).  By virtue of the fact that John sees four faces, they are intended to be a reminder to us that “four” in the scriptures is a number standing for “perfection”.  Among other things, these faces are a reminder of Heaven’s view of Man’s perfection or completeness before the throne of God. Last week, I suggested that  “the face of the man” represented Man, God’s highest created being who was given dignity before God. This week let’s look at the second image by way of application:

THE FACE OF THE EAGLE. This speaks of man’s destiny. John’s vision was not of a standing or perched eagle. Rather it was that of a “flying eagle”. The eagle is a majestic bird, often called “the monarch of the sky”.

The eagle is known as the highest flying bird to the Sun. Some have a wingspan as wide as 7 ft! And yet, in spite of its huge size and weight as a bird, it has the ability to move from an earthbound position into the sky. Isn’t this true of we who are believers in Jesus Christ? In spite of our seemingly earthbound condition, we were ordained for the heights of heaven. The apostle Paul wrote that we have been “blessed in Christ…with every spiritual blessing in…heavenly places”. Further, we have been “seated with Him…in heavenly places”. Again, he wrote that the Church of Jesus Christ is called now “to manifest the manifold wisdom of God in the heavenly places”(Ephesians 1:6; 2:6; 3:10). What a high privilege we have in Christ!

Eagles have superior vision. Their keen power of vision is said to be eight times greater than the natural human eye.  One person who was a watcher of these majestic creatures recorded having seen an eagle swoop down to take a rabbit which was detected two miles away!  Job declared, “The eagle spies its prey from afar off”(Job 39:29). You and I as believers in Jesus Christ have been given keen insight to penetrate and apprehend the things of the Spirit. Paul wrote that “No eye has seen; no ear has heard, nor has the mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him–but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit”(1 Cor.2:9-10a NIV).

The eagle is a natural hunter. Job says, “On the rock it dwells and resides. On the crag of the rock it dwells and resides, on the crag of the rock and the stronghold. From there it spies out the prey; its eyes observe from afar. He takes the prey, and there its young ones suck up the blood”(Job 39:28-30). The eagle by nature will feed on that which is freshly taken in the hunt.  We are called to “feed” on the person of Christ.  In Exodus chapter 12,the children of Israel applied the blood of the lamb to the doorframe of their homes, and ate the roasted lamb within their homes to be delivered from the angel of death.  We, likewise, are to appropriate and apply the blood of the lamb to the doorframes of our hearts in order to be  delivered from the power of sin and death.  Jesus Christ is God’s Lamb that takes away the sins of the world (John. 1:29). We, like Israel, must also by faith feed on Christ in our lives.  He said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day”(John. 6:54).  This is intended to indicate a spiritual reality of feeding on His promises and His will for our lives.

Finally, eagles mate for life. Although they are known as solitary birds by nature, they are joined to one mate for the duration. They will build a nest together, take care of their family together; they will soar and enjoy the heights together. We, too, should be so joined to Christ, that our devotion is unwavering in a worldly  culture that makes no lasting commitments.  Paul said, “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him”(1 Cor. 6:17).

Dear friends, we can persevere in our commitment, all the way into eternity, if we learn to abide in Christ. We can do so not in our own strength, but in His. The prophet Isaiah assures us, “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as an eagle; they shall run and not grow weary; they shall walk and not faint”(Is 40:31).   As we learn the secret of waiting in His presence we shall arise to our destiny in this hour.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

THE GLORY OF GOD IN MAN

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, full of grace and truth”(Jn 1:14).

We can never know who we are until we own our God-identity. Every other perception of ourselves is a mere shadow image at best, and a gross distortion at its worst. Man was created to bear the image of God. And until there is a return to that awareness, he is lost. Jesus put it this way, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matt. 16:26). He is not merely speaking of man lost without God for all eternity, but lost without a destination in this life. I am thinking of a quote I recall having read (whose author I cannot recall): “The glory of God is seen in man when man is fully alive”. We are called human “beings”, not human “doings”.

The more we allow our worldly (and sad to say, far too often our religious) culture make the primary goal of life success by our performance, the more we will miss the mark. This is the very essence of the meaning of SIN. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”(Rom. 3:23).

This is in essence of why Jesus Christ came into the world, to show us Man fully alive, bearing the glory of God.

In Ezekiel and the Book of the Revelation there is an image given of four living “beings” that relate directly to the Throne of God: One has the face of a man, another the face of an eagle, another the face of an ox, and one the face of a lion. It has been well acknowledged by scholars that this image is representational of the four gospels. For example: Matthew’s emphasis is Jesus the King, the face of the Lion. Mark’s emphasis is Jesus the Servant, the face of the Ox. Luke’s emphasis is Jesus the Man, the face of the Man. John’s emphasis is Jesus, Son of God, the face of the Eagle. I suggest that each of these descriptions bring forth an aspect of the glory of Man around or before the presence of God. I want to look at each of these images this month and find application for our own life.

THE FACE OF A MAN. This suggests dignity. The first mention of man is in reference to the eternal plan of God in creating the earth. Man was God’s highest goal and ambition. “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule…over all the earth…. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”(Gen.1:26-27). The psalmist stands in awe of this concept as he worships God in all of His majesty.  “O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have  displayed Your splendor above the heavens! From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established  strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;  What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?  Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!” (Psalm 8:1-5 NIV)

It is the pleasure and intention of God our Creator that we walk in the dignity of true sons of the kingdom of heaven. We are more than creatures reflecting a world destined to perish. We are to represent our God with a dignity that elevates, enlivens and represents His character and nature in the earth. Until man fell (read Gen. 3), he walked among God’s created order as God’s vice-roy, being and doing what God was doing in the invisible realm. There was no disconnect between heaven and earth until man had fallen from his lofty height in God. But let us thank God! That was not the last chapter to human history. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to both rescue a fallen human race and to restore man’s rightful place in the universe. “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In  Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also  believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is  given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph 1:11-14).

It is in the mystery of the eternal plan of God in Jesus Christ that we who believe in Him will once again be “God’s possession– to the praise of His glory”(Eph 1:14b NIV). What honor and dignity we have been given. May we be fully aware and alive to this reality now.

Copyright© Walter Fletcher Jr., 2011. Permission is granted to reproduce this article free of charge, provided that it is not altered in its original form and content. Please direct all correspondence to walterfletcherjr@gmail.com